Fairfax and Loudoun counties will not appeal a Virginia Supreme Court decision that killed the counties' deposit laws governing soft drink containers.
On Monday, supervisors in both counties decided they had no ammunition left to defend the deposit laws -- the only ones in the metropolitan area.
In a related action, the Montgomery County Council has once again decided to delay for a year implementation of its container deposit law for soft drinks.
The Fairfax and Loudoun decisions mean that no-deposit, throwaway soft drink containers will be back on store shelves, effective immediately. Some stores will continue to offer consumers a choice of throwaway bottles and cans or returnable bottles.
In Fairfax, Supervisor Sandra L. Duckworth (D-Mount Vernon) introduced the motion not to appeal the court decision. After the motion passed 5-to-0, with four members abstaining, Chairman John F. Herrity (R), a long-time critic of the 2-year-old Fairfax ordinance, said:
"From this day forward, Fairfax ceases to be an island of returnables in a sea of throwaways."
Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centerville), a strong supporter of the law in the past, remained hopeful: "We have no alternative but to repeal this ordinance. But environmentalists in this state are not going to rest easy. The (statewide) battle is not over."
The Fairfax supervisors are on record backing a statewide deposit law, but past efforts have encountered fatal opposition from the powerful bottling industry, which led the successful legal attack on the Fairfax and Loudoun ordinances.
Fairfax and Loudoun dropped their fight to control litter through a deposit law after their staffs said an appeal of the state Supreme Court decision Aug. 28 was hopeless.
In its decision, the court said localities do not have the authority to pass deposit laws covering soft drink containers. In a related decision, the court ruled that no locality could pass deposit laws covering beer. The Loudoun board had sought such a law.
Joining Duckworth in her motion to drop the appeals' fight were Herrity, Joseph Alexander (D-Lee), Thomas M. Davis III (R-Mason) and Nancy K. Falck (R-Dranesville).
Supervisors who abstained: Pennino, Marie B. Travesky (R-Springfield), Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) and James M, Scott (D-Providence).